Governor abuses constituents’ trust with OLF stance

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 3, 2008

To the honorable Gov. Timothy Kaine:

I have always believed in the power of democracy and the important role that individuals play in their government. Unfortunately the trust that I have put into you and other government representatives has been misplaced and abused. This gross oversight can be no better highlighted than in the case of the Outlying Landing Field (OLF) in Southampton and Sussex County.

The blatant disregard that you have shown to the opinions of the constituents within this area underlies a larger problem running rampant throughout the governing bodies.

I have always been proud to say that I grew up and live in Southampton County, a rural county in the western extremity of the Tidewater region. I was raised with cornfields on either side of my family’s home with woods standing in the front and back. It is a safe, peaceful community where the biggest attractions on Friday nights are the Little League baseball games.

This serene community is not an accident of fate but rather a choice made by each resident to live in the country.

By living in the country you forgo the convenience of having everything at your fingertips in return for sense of privacy and freedom found there. We were relatively sheltered from the outside world until the OLF was introduced into our small community.

Make no mistake, we did not ask for this intrusion but rather it was forced upon us. We also did not ask to be lied to.

The representation within Southampton County is assembled in the form of the county Board of Supervisors who speak for the constituents in the individual regions. The board members listened and heard the cry of the people and sent you a formal letter of Aug. 1, informing you of their decision and asking to be taken off the list.

Bob Crouch from the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness mocked the Board by ensuring them that they would be informed of future steps and that their decision would be taken into consideration.

But the citizens were not taken into consideration and furthermore were not informed of the future steps. They had to observe on their own the clear cutting of more than 50,000 acres of land by International Paper to be sold to an &uot;unnamed buyer.&uot; Did you know about the &uot;unnamed buyer,&uot; governor?

We are now currently being informed of the decision when there seems that there are little to no choices left. A cruel trick has been played and the repercussions are astounding. What can you offer the area?

The OLF brings no new jobs to the vicinity and diminishes the amount of timber land available for harvesting by International Paper, one of the biggest employers in the area. The land that is sure to be annexed around the base will bring little profit to its owners in a time when national values are plummeting and prices for everything else are rising.

The wildlife and beauty of the state of Virginia that you highlighted as one of your focuses while in office will be diminished by the deforestation and noise pollution. Most importantly families that have lived on their land for more than 150 years will be forced to relocate.

It is an insurmountable debt that the residents of Southampton and Sussex counties will be forced to pay on your behalf.

Your flippant attitude towards the welfare of the people living within these areas shows the true nature of your political and social ideology. The secrecy of the process, that I am sure you will attribute to national security, also is a telling attribute of the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.

The glaring lack of faith that you put in the residents of this area to absorb and process the facts of this decision speaks to me the general lack of faith you have in the education system of the state. If Virginia schools are doing their job to prepare individuals for the real world then there should be no doubt in their ability to understand the legislation and basic facts.

The refusal of support by the area’s constituents in no way implies that they are unpatriotic and selfish and the assertion that they are is nothing but a feeble excuse used when there is no solid argument to take its place.

Through this ongoing experience it has become increasingly clear to me that the power, in this case, does not lie in the hands of the people but rather in a small, manipulative, cunning group. I have also had a moment of clarity concerning another belief that I have held since early childhood: that the majority of people are good and when given the opportunity most would do right instead of wrong.

You have not jaded me enough to think that all people are bad but rather that it is hard for the screams of the majority to be heard over the roaring of the minority’s jet planes.

Finally my question to you is how do you sleep at night?

I reason very peacefully, considering there are no Navy Jets executing training over the top of your home.

Don’t the residents of Southampton and Sussex counties deserve the same good night’s sleep?

Ella L. Beale attended Southampton High School and is a sophomore at Radford University. Her e-mail address is